Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power of Netflix in the Classroom

I spent the day watching documentaries for use in my classes.  Netflix makes life SOOO easy for teachers; I can get a documentary streaming in class in no time.  I watched 5 today, but really only thought two were worth using for class.

The two I liked most were National Geographic's China's Lost Girls and an independent documentary about a Columbian mother abandoned by her husband two weeks after arriving in the US, Entre Nos.

In CC English (college credit/dual enrollment), the students will be learning about what they can do to make this world a better place.  But, before they can make it a better place, they first have to see the issues. Living in the middle of nowhere doesn't really help; we aren't exposed to the national news or international landscape much.  The hope is to help students see that almost everything is connected, and that our choices impact the lives of others.

National Geographic's China's Lost Girls chronicles the journey of families as they go to China to adopt little girls abandoned because of the Chinese system of 1 child per household law.  Now there is a whole issue here that we won't discuss much in class, and that is China's policy.  While it is an important topic, the focus for our discussion will be why these families felt the need to adopt children living abroad instead of the hundreds of children stateside that need families.  There are reasons families choose international adoption over stateside adoption.  The students will have to figure out what those reasons are and try to brainstorm ideas about what needs to change in our adoption system to make stateside adoption more palatable (if that is possible).

Entre Nos illustrates the struggle of this young woman with two small children.  She is new to the country, and her husband just up and leaves her to go to Miami.  She is left alone in NYC with two children, 50 bucks, and very little English under her belt.  She can't go to public service because she probably didn't know it existed, and she has no friends or family to help her.  Her struggle is one of resilience, and students will examine the movie from the immigration point of view.  How do we treat immigrants?  We often hear about illegal immigrants, but what resources exist for legal immigrants?

The two movies are meant to spark discussion, and, combined with readings, students will be able to explore two topics that are likely foreign to them.  I can't wait to hear their ideas!

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